On Sunday’s first-ever remote episode, viewers watched longtime host Ryan Seacrest, judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, and the top 20 contestants put on a show from the comfort of their own homes amid the ongoing public health situation.
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“American Idol is all about fairness, so we sent everyone a kit that had same mics, the same set, the same lights,” Perry told reporters during a conference call after the show. “It was up to the talent. They had the option to perform with their own instruments or utilize our music director from afar.”
“The disadvantages would be that they don’t get the opportunity to play off of an audience,” she added. “They have to look into the lens of the camera as though it is an excited audience. They don’t get to flex that muscle. There’s a lot of time delay, there’s a lot of patience that we have to practice when we’re speaking, and the reactions can’t come as off the cuff as they do in a live setting. All things considered, I would say with all the circumstances, I think we’re really proud of it.”
“What I was missing was, I like to see the shaking of the hands, a little sweaty palms, how you handle yourself, your stage presence,” Richie said. “That’s one thing we can’t teach. You either have that or you don’t. I think they just did so well and staged their own show and pulled it off. That was the only thing that was missing. My shout out goes out to the production team and the contestants. Everybody was just on point tonight.”
“Another part of the rules was that each contestant had three opportunities to perform their performance and pick from their best one. They just had to pick their favorite one of those performances,” Bryan said, later adding, “I feel like if they have a disadvantage, it’s because we’re really to able to really hear their vocal qualities even more. It’s a disadvantage and an advantage, but if you’re not as strong of a singer, it allows me, Lionel and Katy to pick you apart more. I think even at home, America could hear the same thing.”
Last week, in-house mentor Bobby Bones spoke to PEOPLE Now about the new circumstances and how the contestants have been coping with it.
“It’s been really wild because no one ever attempted what we’re doing, which is coming from 40 places at once,” Bones said. “Just walking through rehearsals, it’s been pretty wild. We have 20 contestants, in 20 different cities. We have Lionel Richie, Katy Perry Luke Bryan, Ryan Seacrest and myself in five different places. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen. I’m nervous about how it’s all going to come together on Sunday.”
While social distancing continues to be the new normal for everyone, the in-house mentor said the contestants are handling it as best as they can.
“In life, it’s not if adversity is going to hit, it’s when is it going to hit and how are you going to react when it happened,” he said. “I talked to them and said, ‘Hey, this is just something that happens.’ Maybe not this specifically, but there are always going to be things in your life and/or career that sideswipe you. You have two options: lay down or get up and keep going. Once they decide, ‘Okay, this is uncomfortable,’ they’ve had to set up their own studios. It’s equal eyes. It is clunky at times for them because they have to do things they’ve never done, but we’re all rocking it together.”
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.